Website Archive

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On-Site Fluorescent Lamp Crushers

Testing Lamp Crushers
U.S.EPA contractors crush fluorescent lamps.

In 2001, Californians disposed of or recycled an estimated 122 million used mercury-containing fluorescent lamps. Businesses and residences (as of February 8, 2006) must send these lamps to off-site commercial recycling facilities. In the past, these lamps were either disposed of in municipal landfills or recycled at off-site commercial recycling facilities. Mercury-containing lamps disposed in landfills contributed to mercury in California’s environment via surface runoff, leaching to groundwater, and potentially, atmospheric emissions in landfill gas.

Many businesses and household hazardous waste facilities (HHWF) are interested in using small on-site drum-top lamp crushers to reduce the volume of spent fluorescent lamps and to improve their ability to store, handle and transport these wastes. In the past, small lamp crushers operated in California and other states have contaminated the work areas and buildings with mercury. Because of the high interest in these devices, DTSC’s Technology Development Branch worked with the U.S. EPA to evaluate the effectiveness of these units. Units which are determined to effectively control mercury emissions to meet CalOSHA requirements will be considered.

Spent Fluorescents Lamps
Spent fluorescent lamps

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a Mercury Lamp Drum-Top Crusher Study on the performance of drum-top crushers (DTCs) for mercury-containing lamps. EPA believes this study provides states, users of fluorescent lamps, and lamp recyclers the information needed to make more informed management decisions when recycling fluorescent lamps.

The reader is reminded that all discarded fluorescent lamps are identified as hazardous waste in California. Deliberately breaking the lamps is considered hazardous waste treatment that requires a standardized hazardous waste facility permit. The U.S. EPA study showed that the DTCs evaluated emitted mercury, even when vapor controls were in-place and the units were operated properly. Therefore, DTSC has opted not to reduce the permit requirements for using them.

DTSC Publications:

Government Web Sites:

Industry Groups and Associations:

Off-site Commercial Recycling Facilities:

(This list is not comprehensive and is not an endorsement of the facilities listed below).

  • AERC-MT (Link removed – destination no longer available)
  • Earth Protection Services, Inc. (EPSI) (Link removed – destination no longer available)
  • Ecolights Northwest
  • Lighting Resources, Inc. (Link removed – destination no longer available)